Creative Capital Campaign Gifts (3 of 5)

Over the last 26 years I have served as a Congregational Stewardship Consultant for the UUA.  During that time I have worked with over 135 of our congregations, some of them more than once.  I have had the opportunity to talk with many people about how they made their decisions to support a capital campaign in their congregation.  One technical note:  Financial commitments to a capital campaign are usually paid over a three year period.  Here is one of my favorite stories.

These stories are illustrative.  They contain one common element.  Persons with commitment to the vision of the church will find a way to give generously.  Each of these stories involves people who “gave until it felt good.”  And that really is the criterion for our success.  Each pledge is important.  Each person will give according to her or his commitment and will want to feel good about it.
David L. Rickard
UUA Congregational Stewardship Consultant

Charlotte purchased a new car four years ago.  The final payment was due shortly after the capital campaign began.  She decided that she would make her pledge to her congregation’s building program the same as the car payment had been.  After all, the car was in good condition and she would just make the check out to her church instead of GMAC.

 

Look for another story from David Rickard in the coming weeks!

De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 12 (of 12)

We’ve all heard myths about fundraising.  These often lead us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing to raise money.  We’ll be running a twelve part series de-bunking fundraising myths to take a close look at these false assumptions about giving.

This is the twelfth and final in the series, if you’ve missed the others you can go back and ready them (or you read all of them in the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship in Chapter 1: The Spiritual Roots of Stewardship).  We all feel the pinch during an economic downturn; however, this does not spell disaster for our faith communities.

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.


Fundraising Myth #12

Myth: A financially healthy faith community is one that receives all of its operating budget money from congregants’ annual financial commitments.

Truth: Not necessarily. Fundraising consultants suggest that annual financial commitments should represent at least 80 percent of the total operating budget, but there is one other important factor: the distribution of those financial commitments. A financially healthy church has an annual median commitment that is almost the same as its annual average commitment.

Learn more about Stewardship at General Assembly

General Assembly 2011 in Charlotte, NC has finally arrived! Director of Congregational Stewardship Services, Dr. Wayne Clark, is leading a number of workshops this year. For those of you interested in the new FORTH: A Stewardship Development program that was just launched, there is a two-part workshop that may be helpful in deciding if this program is right your congregation. Information is included below for your convenience.  We hope to see you there.

Thursday 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

Stewardship: Appreciative Inquiry and the Annual Budget Drive
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark

How do you approach your annual budget drive? Do you focus on the problem of limited money? Do you
identify the root causes? AI turns these conversations inside out, asserting that positive approaches to change can transform your congregation. Come learn how to apply AI to your next annual budget drive.
————————————-

Thursday 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

FORTH: Growth, Stewardship, and Leadership (Part 1)
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark & Mark Ewert

Come learn about this new and comprehensive stewardship development program. By the end of the workshop, participants will know how to:
1) initiate FORTH
2) take an Appreciative approach to FORTH, and
3) gain access to FORTH products and Resources.
Handouts and time for questions will be provided.
————————————-

Thursday 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Convention Center 209 AB

FORTH: Growth, Stewardship, and Leadership (Part 2)
Lead by Dr. Wayne Clark & Mark Ewert
This is the second of two FORTH workshops. (Participation in part 1 is not a prerequisite.)

FORTH is a stewardship development program, and this workshop focuses on improving lay and professional leadership skills. Learn how to implement FORTH in your own congregation, while activating growth and freeing-up resources.
————————————-

Additionally, this year the Congregational Life Staff group will  be hosting Table Talks at the Congregational Life booth in the exhibit hall. Dr. Wayne Clark will be hosting two Table Talks on Stewardship. During this time, congregational leaders are encouraged to come to the Congregational Life booth and asked Wayne follow up questions regarding Workshops or stand alone questions on any stewardship topic.

Table Talk Information
Location: #721, Congregational Life Booth, Exhibit Hall
Date: Friday, June 24th at 2:30 and Saturday, June 25th at 2:30
Time: 30 Minutes
Topic: Any Stewardship-related questions

Creative Capital Campaign Gifts (2 of 5)

Over the last 26 years I have served as a Congregational Stewardship Consultant for the UUA.  During that time I have worked with over 135 of our congregations, some of them more than once.  I have had the opportunity to talk with many people about how they made their decisions to support a capital campaign in their congregation.  One technical note:  Financial commitments to a capital campaign are usually paid over a three year period.  Here is one of my favorite stories.

These stories are illustrative.  They contain one common element.  Persons with commitment to the vision of the church will find a way to give generously.  Each of these stories involves people who “gave until it felt good.”  And that really is the criterion for our success.  Each pledge is important.  Each person will give according to her or his commitment and will want to feel good about it.
David L. Rickard
UUA Congregational Stewardship Consultant

Jim and Janice were active members of their church and involved at the District and national levels as well.  In fact, Janice was planning to enroll in divinity school.  She and Jim got drawn into the planning for the expansion of their church building, and Jim became the director of the capital campaign committee.  When it came time to make their pledge, they chose to defer the purchase of a new car and the remodeling of their kitchen so that they could make a substantial investment in the future of their church.

 

Look for another story from David Rickard in the coming weeks!

Creative Ways to Explore Giving with your Congregation

Recently, a UUA staff member attended a service at First Parish Brewster, Unitarian Universalist, in Brewster, MA. This congregation happened to be leading a service about happiness and its connection to giving. For congregations who are struggling with ideas on how to incorporate these types of discussions into their church service in a creative way, First Parish is a great example of a congregation who is using creativity to start conversations about stewardship.

Here is an excerpt from First Parish’s sermon, which built a connection between personal happiness and giving generously. In this excerpt, Rev. Mary McKinnon Ganz discusses a few ways to practice compassion as a means of finding your happiest self. Compassion and happiness are linked with stewardship in a story about First Parish’s own church community:

 

“…Find a community to practice with – a group of people who are mutually committed to each other’s practice of compassion. A lot of the small groups in this church partake of this happiness. In Small Group Ministry, six to 12 people come together with a mutual commitment to listen to each other, to hear one another’s stories non-judgmentally, with compassion in their hearts. If you’re not in one of these groups this year, please consider whether you might be able to join in the fall.

 

The happiest people I’ve met in this church were in a group that met only three times. This was a class gathered by Judy Jollett to consider a practice of giving one gift a day for 29 days. People report that this helps them to focus on what it is they have to give and not on what their limitations are. The third meeting of that group, not quite a month ago, virtually rocked with joy. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  People reported finding joy in the most ordinary things – large and small ways they had discovered that they could give to someone else. Like taking the time to look in the eyes of a harried checkout clerk, and smile, and say, “Don’t worry. I’m in no hurry.” When we take the time to pay attention to what we have to give, our hearts overflow with generosity. Giving becomes a way of life, a path that leads to happiness.”

There are also members of the congregation who have gotten involved in stewardship conversations in their church. Here is an excerpt from a testimonial, titled “This I believe,” which was written by lay leader Kevin Lowey.

“I know we are capable of this type of abundance. Here’s just one sign of our changing prosperity. Last year our open plate collections totaled $14,000. Guess how much has been collected this year to date?…If you guessed $28,000, you’re right!! There’s a growing momentum and a renewed vision here at First Parish. If we can put the same spirit of generosity and abundance into the commitments we make this spring to support our church, it will allow our leaders to build a budget that will make good on the potential that I think all of us are feeling. I know I’m feelin’ it!”

While each congregation may approach stewardship conversations differently, this blog was meant to illustrate how thoughtful church members and staff can be when discussing stewardship. Special thanks to Rev. Mary McKinnon Ganz, Rev. JD Benson, Allison Beavan and Kevin Lowey for their permission to highlight their work on our blog.

Turning challenges into opportunities

The following article is an update of our October 5, 2010 blog post. Vanco Services provides a variety of e.services and they are currently working with nearly 200 UUA congregations in 46 different states. Some churches use only one e.service® solution while others use an entire suite of solutions that includes online giving, direct debit giving (ACH), credit & debit card giving and remote check deposit.

We encourage you to contact Vanco to explore the possibilities for your congregation.

Author: Stephen Rose
Director of Marketing
Vanco Services, LLC

As a provider of electronic giving solutions to thousands of churches, Vanco Services, LLC is pleased to share insights we’ve gained over the past 16 years.

Special Challenges

Seasonal donation slump. Donations tend to track closely with the number of weekly worshippers, producing a seasonal donation slump in most congregations. A church’s operating costs and program expenses continue year round, but weekly check & cash offerings are erratic. Donations typically taper off after Easter and then drop—often precipitously—during summer months before recovering in the 4th quarter. Vanco data shows an average 43% decline in weekly giving by paper check from Easter to mid-summer. Even the most dedicated churchgoers miss services. Vacations, illness and weather (good and bad) all enter into the equation. In the fall of 2009, the flu—and even fear of the flu—depressed attendance at services. In recent winters, snowstorms also kept worshippers of all faiths at home in many areas of the country. One Greek Orthodox Archdiocese estimated that February 2010 snowstorms resulted in at least $1.4 million in lost weekly offerings.
Declining check use. Getting twentysomethings to attend services is one thing. Getting them to write a check is quite another. Many families no longer carry a checkbook and most young families never did. A growing number of households simply prefer to make electronic payments and contributions whenever possible. A December, 2010 study from the Federal Reserve reported that paper check use declined by more than 43% in the past decade. The same study showed that electronic payments increased by 276%. This shift in payment practices presents a stewardship challenge for every congregation. (more…)

De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 11 (of 12)

We’ve all heard myths about fundraising.  These often lead us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing to raise money.  We’ll be running a twelve part series de-bunking fundraising myths to take a close look at these false assumptions about giving.

This is the eleventh in the series and we will run one each month (if you can’t wait to a year to read all of them you can purchase the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship and read them in Chapter 1: The Spiritual Roots of Stewardship).  Sending out a mailing is surely the easiest way to ask for financial commitments but is it the best way?

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #11

Myth: Because people don’t like to talk about money, annual financial commitments must be sought in an indirect way. It is best to send financial commitment forms through the mail and ask recipients to return them by mail. In this way, they will not be offended, embarrassed, or angry.

Truth: The more indirect the approach, the less money will be contributed. Personal stewardship conversations are most effective. Getting groups together is a less direct approach, but it can provide an occasional break from the stewardship conversations. Telephone calls and mail solicitations are the most ineffective ways to ask for money. If you are uncomfortable talking about money, the solution is to find ways to become more comfortable talk about it, not to avoid direct, personal conversations.

Creative Capital Campaign Gifts (1 of 5)

Over the last 26 years I have served as a Congregational Stewardship Consultant for the UUA.  During that time I have worked with over 135 of our congregations, some of them more than once.  I have had the opportunity to talk with many people about how they made their decisions to support a capital campaign in their congregation.  One technical note:  Financial commitments to a capital campaign are usually paid over a three year period.  Here is one of my favorite stories.

These stories are illustrative.  They contain one common element.  Persons with commitment to the vision of the church will find a way to give generously.  Each of these stories involves people who “gave until it felt good.”  And that really is the criterion for our success.  Each pledge is important.  Each person will give according to her or his commitment and will want to feel good about it.
David L. Rickard
UUA Congregational Stewardship Consultant

For ten years, Joan and Jackson had looked forward to retirement.  In recent years, they had told their friends of their plans to avoid the cold, snowy winters in the northern city where they lived.  Joan said, “You will not see us during January, February, or March.  We will be in Florida.”  As part of the campaign to fund a new church building, the couple (both former presidents of the congregation) was asked to give an endorsement during the Sunday service.  Joan spoke for both.  “We lied to you,” she began.  “We will be here throughout the next three winters even though we have retired.  We are pledging the money we would have spent in Florida to the capital fund drive.”

Look for another story from David Rickard in the coming weeks!

Free Money? Well, yes actually.

Coming out of this recession, congregations are looking for new ways to augment church income. Many of the more traditional options (craft fairs, flea markets, service auctions) can, if well done, help build community, but they tend to be one time affairs, place high demands on volunteer hours, and most often do not raise substantial amounts of money.  Many congregations are making use of more technologically assisted options with good results. You might wish to consider something along these lines.

One such program is to sign up your congregation as an affiliate with a service provider, such as Amazon. Being an affiliate simply means your organization will post somewhere on its website a notice that anyone who wishes to order anything from Amazon may do so by clicking on the Amazon logo on your web site. When this is the done, the purchase is automatically credited to the church’s account for a share of the purchase price. Signing up is simple, and Amazon provides a monthly statement, as well as automatic deposits of the proceeds. How much the church earns is a bit more complicated an answer, depending on volume and amount and types of purchases, but in my congregation’s experience, it runs about 4% of the amounts spent. The pattern for most seems to be for a bit of a slow start the first couple of months; once members get used to the idea, volume builds up quickly. Since the program applies not just for books but for everything purchased on Amazon (furniture, clothing, electronics, etc), the totals grow nicely. There are other affiliate programs available (Barnes & Noble, for example). We chose Amazon because the variety of items available for purchase is so much larger. (more…)

De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 10 (of 12)

We’ve all heard myths about fundraising.  These often lead us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing to raise money.  We’ll be running a twelve part series de-bunking fundraising myths to take a close look at these false assumptions about giving.

This is the tenth in the series and we will run one each month (if you can’t wait to a year to read all of them you can purchase the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship and read them in Chapter 1: The Spiritual Roots of Stewardship).  Hosting a great luncheon after a Sunday Service is the key to people’s pocket books, right?

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #10

Myth: As long as a fellowship event (to launch an annual budget drive or capital campaign) provides a free meal, people will attend the event and give generously of their gifts, call, and spiritual vocation. A beautiful brochure with a clever slogan and attractive logo will further increase giving.

Truth: A free meal is not enough. When people reserve time in their busy schedules, they expect more than just some mediocre food and an average after-dinner program. They want a well-planned event that includes an opportunity to interact with other congregants. They also want to have fun. Many fundraising consultants have determined the best entertainment involves the attendees. For example, a program of group signing is preferable to having the choir perform for the gathering. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the format and promotion of the event matter less than the message. A well-planned fellowship event, a beautiful brochure, and a clever slogan will add absolutely nothing to financial commitments unless a clear and compelling case for stewardship has been made.